In our previous post, we mentioned how good recommendations can make your application profile more attractive.
Now, let us show you basic steps and some useful tips to get good recommendation letters for your job application, school admission, and/or scholarship grants.
The short guideline to get good recommendation letters
Step 1: Be impressive, or at least notable to the other people
We suggest that you should do this step as soon as you start your work/internship/study. You need to show others what you are good at. Only when people see some proofs/ actions will they believe it. And when they believe it, they will be more likely to recommend you.
And yes, you don’t really need to be too expressive (or aggressive) if it goes against your nature. But, it is crucial to let people know about your talents and capabilities.
For instance: if you want to be recommended as “a person of good communication skills“, you will need to do extra works for socializing with colleagues and customers. On the other hand, if you want to be recognized by your “analyzing skill“, demonstrate it with a real good analysis on new market expansion.
Step 2: To get good recommendation, you’ll need to ask the RIGHT person
– Firstly, the RIGHT person(s) knows you well and s/he has good impression about you. They will be more likely to write you personalized and meaningful recommendations, which are more attractive to your potential recruiters.
Recruiters would like to see more than just vague claims, such as Ms. ABC possesses good customer skills. They want to know the story or the specific actions behind that “great customers skills”.
– Secondly, ask recommendation letters from creditable person(s). Creditable does not necessarily mean “fancy title” people. Creditable person(s) are the one(s) who has been:
– Working with you close or long enough, or
– Supervising your progress, or
– Responsible for giving you assessments.
Once you have someone in mind as your ideal referrers, you will need to ask them for a (short) meeting to explain your situation. Once you got their approval, your means of communication can be discussed later. It is the appropriate etiquette regardless of your relationship.
Step 3: Do preparation and research
The second and the third step can be switched or done simultaneously.
Regardless of the order, the main point is to provide your referrers enough materials to write their recommendations.
You should start with finding the key requirements for the position you are applying to. Then, you match your personal strengths with those requirements and with corresponding referrers.
Let’s take this example. You have asked 3 referrers (your professor, a colleague, and your part-time job manager). The jobs requires customer skills, team spirit, and analytical skills. So our suggestion would be as following. You will ask your professor to mention your analytical skills. Your colleague will help with emphasizing the team player part. And the customer skills can be expressed through your manager’s recommendation.
However, it is up to you to decide the approach. The point is to make rational arrangements.
To get good recommendation, it is also better for you to prepare extra materials: your achievements list, and credentials. Sometimes, you will also need to write a draft of recommendation letter for your referrer to review and to sign.
Step 4: Customize the content of your recommendation letters
You will need to communicate with your referrers what you’d like them to express the most. Certainly, the referrers can write at their own wills. It is completely crucial to respect your referrers’ choices. But, it is always better for you and the referrers to discuss the content before the actual writing.
Why is that?
→ Your recommendation letter cannot be too long. And more importantly, your demonstrated best sides need to be relevant with the job’s requirements. There will be many criteria, so let’s be wise in picking the right ones to address in recommendation letters. For instance, you mention your qualifications of A, B, and C. Let your referrers talk about D and E.
Plus, some specific skills/ competences are better off when being validated by an objective opinion (for instance, team spirit, empathy, etc). And your referrers can only know about that only if you tell them.
Step 5: Keep in touch with your referrers and schedule meetings
Yes, the last step would be always about keeping constant communication with your referrers. Also, we strongly suggest you to schedule everything in advance. It will allow both you and your referrers time to reflect and invest in writing without rushing.
And don’t forget to show your gratitude as well as updates about the results of your application process.
With these 5 tips, we hope that they can help you greatly with the preparation for your application profile. Or at least, it can give you a general picture of what is the process to get good recommendation letters.
Do you still have any concerns? You can contact our advisers for help!
Would you like to share your thoughts? Or you have been successfully using those suggestions, and have a great story to share?
Fantastic! Let’s leave them in the comment part.